Last weekend there was a big sale on Craftsy classes. I had just finished reading Knitlandia by Clara Parks, in which she talks about filming her Craftsy class; Stashbusting: Make the Most of the Yarns You Have. After debating with myself most of the weekend, I bought the class and started watching it on Monday. My stash is pretty well organized, even though there is too much of it. I have given away or sold a lot of yarn in the last year, and I finished or ripped out almost all of my UFOs last month, but there was one last sweater, hidden away in a box under the bed. I knew I would never finish it, it didn’t even fit me anymore, but the yarn could not be reused. The sweater was worked in an allover Fair Isle pattern with ten different colors and color changes almost every row. I had cut the yarn every time I changed color, leaving the ends to weave in later. The daunting task of weaving in all those ends was another reason I knew I would never finish that sweater. So when Clara started talking about repurposing UFOs, I started thinking about what I wanted to do to that sweater. I stopped the video, got the sweater out from under the bed, and started cutting.
I took this picture the last time I worked on the sweater, in 2013. I had finished the body up to the underarms, and the back up to the neck. The pullover was going to have set-in sleeves, so there were stitches on pins for the underarms and stitches were decreased at the sides for the arm holes. Clara’s suggestion to turn unfinished sweaters into pillows is a good idea, but not really my style. I’d rather have a bag instead. So I cut the back off the body and put all the body stitches back on a circular needle. I was debating whether to sew up the top or the bottom when it hit me that I could use the back to create a base for the bag. More cutting, to get the right size rectangular piece from the back, and I put the live stitches from the top and bottom of the piece on another circular needle. I knit one row in red around the body and used the same color to knit the stitches on the base and pick up stitches on each side. It took a lot of counting and recounting to make sure I had the same number of stitches on each piece! Then I used a three-needle bind-off to join the two pieces. It creates a nice little ridge around the bottom of the bag which you can see in this photo.
The sweater was worked in fingering weight yarn, so the fabric was pretty thin, and floppier than I like for a bag. It was also huge! About 17 inches wide and 16 inches deep and don’t forget all the ends that I was determined not to weave in. The solution to all those problems? Felt it! I’ve noticed other times when I felted bags or bowls that the opening tends to flare and get stretched out of shape, so I ran a length of cotton thread through the ribbing at the top. I also zipped the piece into a mesh bag before putting it in the washer. It didn’t get distorted at all in the felting process, and shrunk to just the right size, big enough to fit a three ring binder or sketchbook. I stopped at a craft store yesterday afternoon and found a shoulder strap and attachments.
Et voila! I have a felted book bag! Now what do I do with the leftover yarn?
Thank you for knitting!